<![CDATA[PAULACHASE - PAULACHASE.COM - Practice Tips]]>Sun, 13 Nov 2022 16:56:44 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Don't Stop Now!  We're Just Getting to the Good Part...]]>Wed, 19 Oct 2022 16:06:06 GMThttp://paulachase.com/practice-tips/dont-stop-now-were-just-getting-to-the-good-partPractice Tip: The Many Layers of Practicing
Last month I wrote about how we often feel bored when we practice, especially when a piece that used to feel hard begins to feel easy.  It's not challenging any more, the excitement is gone, we want a new new piece.
But unless the piece was way below our skill level to begin with, there are usually lots more layers of learning, of improvement, of challenge that we haven't even explored yet.
If we are a child or an adult beginner, here are some next-level layers that we should think about:
  • Are we sure we're always playing with a perfectly steady beat?  Sometimes we think we're playing steadily because we know how the rhythm should go, but we're actually taking some pauses in spots where we need to stop and think or taking extra time to move our hand position.
  • Are we going fast enough?  How fast is the piece really meant to go?  Is there a tempo word at the beginning like "Moderato" or "Vivace"?  Is there a numerical metronome marking?  Get out your metronome app and find out for sure.
  • Are we obeying all the dynamics (loud and soft instructions), articulations (how to touch and release notes, such as staccatos, slurs or accents), tempo changes ("rit." and "rall." mean to gradually slow down; "accel." means to speed up; "a tempo" means to go back to the normal speed), fermatas?
All of these are absolutely essential to making our piece sound like actual music instead of just a bunch of notes. 
There are many more layers beyond these, but we have to do these first before we can move on to the more expressive, artistic layers of learning and practicing, which we will explore in a future Practice Tip.
<![CDATA[I'M BORED!]]>Fri, 23 Sep 2022 22:17:46 GMThttp://paulachase.com/practice-tips/im-boredPractice Tip: The Value of Boredom
When we practice any skill, especially a physical skill like we use in music, dance or sports, there are a lot of times when we have to repeat an action over and over and over. Repeating can start to feel really boring! And sometimes we let that boring feeling get to us, bother us, even feel painful.

But what if that feeling of boredom wasn't actually a bad thing? What if feeling bored didn't have to be painful?

When we're practicing, there are a lot of times when we have to repeat one little thing over and over. We repeat it because it's challenging and we want to play it better than we're playing it right now. The first few times we play it, it feels hard. If we repeat it enough times, at some point it starts to feel easier. Then, if we keep on, it starts to feel boring.

Often this is the time when we decide we should stop. Stop because practicing isn't fun any more. Stop because it feels like we aren't making progress any more.

DON'T STOP!!!  Please don't stop now.  When we start to feel bored, that's a sign that we're beginning to get good at something.  Celebrate the feeling of boredomIt means we're making progress.  It means we're ready to add a new layer of challenge to our practicing.

How do we add new layers of challenge?  I'll tell you all about that in a future Practice Tip.